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  • County leaders hold forum to discuss overcrowding

    The County held a series of meetings the week of Oct. 26 to discuss some of the reasons behind the jail’s high population and ways to lower the numbers.

    Jessie Warner and Charlene Rhyne, associates from Justice System Partners, facilitated the series of meetings with community stakeholders and the Safety + Justice Challenge committee members.

    One of the highlights of the week was the Safety & Justice Challenge Community Conversation hosted by the YWCA and the Safety & Justice Planning Team.

    Roughly 60 representatives from the African-American and Hispanic communities, Sullivan Jackson Employment Center, United Way, YWCA of Southern Arizona, Tohono O’odham Nation, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, H.O.P.E. Inc., Primavera, Cenpatico, Amity Foundation and the Tucson Urban League gathered over dinner to learn about the grant and to provide input.

    Warner thanked the crowd for their attendance, telling them they should be proud of their criminal justice and county leaders for their “strength and dedication.” It’s not often, she said, key stakeholders are willing to sit down and talk at the table together.

    The nation is at a “pivotal moment” in history with more and more jurisdictions recognizing the need to overhaul the criminal justice system, Warner said.

    Throughout the evening, participants talked about the need for such things as increased education, job skills, transitional housing and trauma therapy.

    Also on hand for the dinner were a handful of former prison inmates.

    Regina Kelly, a grant writer with Pima County Community Development and Neighborhood Conservation, said she was particularly moved by one woman who described being torn away from her five children and sent to prison.

    “She described the incredible emotional pain of being away from her children and the fact she was treated like an object and not a person,” King said. “That’s a theme we keep hearing -- that these people want to be treated with dignity and they’re not, even though they committed victimless crimes. We’ve criminalized substance abuse.”

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    Safety + Justice Challenge Grant

    Wendy Petersen
    Assistant County Administrator
    (520) 724-8849

    Kate Vesely
    Director of Justice Reform Initiatives
    (520) 724-3062

    32 N. Stone Ave.
    3rd Floor
    Tucson, AZ 85701

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